Dancing With the Stars executive producer Conrad Green recently said, “We'll probably recalibrate judges” for Season 15 All-Stars.
It’s a good idea — and not just because some fans aren’t happy with the judges in general. The fact is, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba have already judged these particular stars and it’s hard to imagine their preferences have changed over time.
We already know what they have liked and not liked (including naming Gilles Marini the “all-around best contestant” in DWTS history), so the All-Stars would either have to cater their moves to please the judges or just throw up their hands in defeat because they know the judges are just never going to like them more than Contestant X.
We need new blood. But what new blood and how should they be “calibrated” into the mix?
You could argue that All-Stars will be the ultimate popularity contest and the judges will be less relevant than ever. Or you could say these contestants are already so popular that the scores will be more important than ever. Either way, we’re going back to our “Who Should Replace the Judges” story from back in December, where some interesting suggestions were shared.
A fan named Patricia Baldwin suggested, “The show needs new judges for sure. I recommend Elena [Grinenko], Louis Van Amstel, someone like Debbie Allen or Joel Grey.”
We’re totally down with the Louis suggestion in particular, especially since it looks like he’s probably not going to join the All-Stars cast as a pro. His ABC blogs are always insightful and candid and even though no one is ever completely objective, he would have the most practical perspective on what works and what’s even possible to do on DWTS.
Other possible guest judge/judge replacement ideas include more crossover between DWTS and So You Think You Can Dance. What about including some SYTYCD choreographers as judges — maybe Mandy Moore, Stacey Tookey, Tyce Diorio or new DWTS Emmy nominee Travis Wall?
Another thing they could do is what they did back on Season 11 in honor of the show’s 200th episode. Helio Castroneves, Kelly Osbourne, Mel B, Drew Lachey, Gilles Marini and Emmitt Smith returned as guest judges sitting next to the usual three on the bench.
They could bring back celebs and pros who didn’t make the All-Stars cut to share their thoughts — maybe Ricki Lake, since she wants to be involved, Julianne Hough for a day between filming, Mario Lopez, Mel B, Ralph Macchio, Dmitry Chaplin, etc. That way, more past favorites could return but for short periods of time so they don’t have to commit to several months of work.
The downside of that is, we may get more cheerleading than commentary — which was the issue with the celebs back on Season 11. And you always have to worry they’ll favor their past partners.
How would you like to see the judging panel change? Do you think they should have a set panel each week — whether it’s the usual three plus one, a mix of old and new, or all new judges? That would at least ensure the judging is consistent across the season. Or do you think they should mix it up each week so the judges can’t develop and support their own favorites?
Dancing With the Stars Season 15: All-Stars will premiere on Monday, September 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Check out the full All-Stars cast list here.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.
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